Gunderson, Norman O. (1918-1996)

Gunderson, Norman O. (1918-1996)

Date Updated




Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU


Educational Background

Stanford University, 1955 CE

University of Wyoming, 1947 MS

University of Wyoming, 1939 BS

Teaching Experience

San Jose State University, 1948-1983

University of Hawaii, 1947-1948

Administrative and Professional Experience

United States Bureau of Reclamation.

Consultant, Planning Department, City of San Jose.

Santa Clara County, Part‑time Assistant Director of Transportation.

Legislative and Educational Consultant. Developed and supervised University Fellowship Program involving students from SJSU and Stanford University.

Military Service: Served in U.S. Army during WWII, discharged with rank of Major. Remained as active reservist, retired as Lt. Colonel.

Awards and Organizations:

Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame, Silicon Valley Engineering Council;

Engineering Award of Distinction, SJSU;

Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Wyoming;

Service to Engineering Profession, California Society of Professional Engineers;

Distinguished Service Award, California Council for Civil Engineers and Land Surveyors;

Outstanding Contribution Award, Engineers Club of San Jo

Distinguished Academic Achievement, Phi Kappa Phi.

Served as President: California Society of Professional Engineers;

California State Engineering Liaison Committee;

Southwest Section of American Society for Engineering Education;

Engineers Club of San Jose (a life member);

Reserve Office Association;

Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society. Member:

American Association for Advancement of Science;

World Future Society;

International Platform Association;

Commonwealth Club;

American Academy Arts and Science;

Society for General Systems Research;

California Society of Professional Engineers;

Registered Professional Engineer in California.

Selected Publications

Authored and presented many papers for local, national, international conferences and seminars.

Perhaps the most representative of his writing talent would be:

"Cybernation and Man in the Engineering Curriculum," Journal of Engineering Education.

Personal Commentary

When Norman was named Chairman of the growing Engineering Department at SJSU in 1956, the department was laboring under unreasonable restrictions imposed by the 1953 Engineering Agreement among state institutions. Under this agreement, engineering education was the function of the University. As a result, state colleges were prohibited from seeking accreditation or offering graduate programs. Always a visionary, Norm was aware that the rapid industrial growth of the yet to be named Silicon Valley would create a great demand for well‑trained, qualified engineers. Only legislation, however, could break this agreement. Norm was recognized as the driving force behind the long legislative battle in Sacramento to rescind the agreement.

As a result of this change, SJSU was the first state college to become accredited, to offer a master’s program and continuing education to concurrently employed engineers. The new, well‑equipped engineering building was dedicated in 1963. All of these factors provided a basis for the development in Silicon Valley of a first class source of qualified engineers from a nationally accredited institution.

Norm was named the first Dean of Engineering in 1955, serving until 1970. During his deanship, he implemented the first Cybernetic Systems program in California. Aspects of this program envisioned the advent of the "Informational Highway" long before many had considered the enormous role computers would assume in the world of communication. Also, during his deanship, he initiated the Distinguished Scholar in Residence with Buckminster Fuller as its first scholar.

Date Completed: 11/96

Adapted from: Biographies of Retired Faculty San Jose State University 1997: A Project of the Emeritus Faculty Association of San Jose State University. San Jose, CA: The University, 1997.


Gunderson, Norman O. (1918-1996)